Olympic qualifying event postponed, Mirabai and eight Indians were to take part

India was to send five men, including Mirabai Chanu and Jeremy Lalrinnunga to the April 16-25 gold-level Olympic qualifying event in Uzbekistan.

Mirabai Chanu in action during the senior national weightlifting Championship (File photo).   -  C.V. Subrahmanyam

The Asian Weightlifting Championship in April, an Olympic qualifying event, where former world champion Mirabai Chanu and eight other Indians were to compete, has been postponed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

India was to send five men, including Youth Olympics gold medallist Jeremy Lalrinnunga (67kg), and four women, including Chanu (49kg), to the April 16-25 gold-level Olympic qualifying event in Uzbekistan.

“Because of global spread of the coronavirus and travel restrictions implemented by many countries around the world, the Local Organizing Committee decided to postpone the Asian Championships, that was due to be held from 16-25 April in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to a yet unknown date,” the International Weightlifting Federation said in a statement.

An official of the Indian Weightlifting Federation said that the international parent body will take a decision on the way forward in a meeting on March 17-18 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

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“In that meeting, the IWF will discuss various possibilities, including the option of extending the Olympic qualification period (which currently ends in April) by one month till May,” the official said.

“This is the last gold level Olympics qualifying event for Asian weightlifters. So, one option could be that they may be allowed to take part in other continental championships like African Championships and European Championships,” he added.

Both the African and European Championships, to be held in April in Mauritius and Russia respectively, are still on schedule despite the coronavirus wrecking havoc on major sporting events worldwide.

To qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, a weightlifter must compete in at least one event in each of the three periods of six months (spread over November 2018 to April 2020), at least six events overall and in at least one gold and silver level event.